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Blog Posted in avatar   Steve Hayes's Blog

Obsolescence

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By Steve Hayes
Posted Jul 6, 2012 in Lifestyle
Built-in obsolescence is both a symptom and a cause of much that is wrong with the modern world. Objects are made to be used for a short period of time, discarded and bought again, and again, and again. It is insane. It is madness on so many levels. It means that people buy the same object over and over, instead of buying it once. It means that more and more stuff is dumped in land fill sites. It means that more and more stuff has to be recycled, at significant expense, labour and energy cost. It means that ridiculous amounts of wealth are squandered on unnecessary so called research and development and even more is wasted on advertising to transform unrelated emotional states into desires for unnecessary objects. It is the madness of an economy of waste and gratuitous consumption.
Well, the corporate executives and their friends the professional politicians are not going to do anything about the problem. The only way it is going to change is if ordinary people stop buying rubbish and start buying objects that will last.
It is not long ago, historically speaking, that objects were made to last a life-time. One bought a bed, for instance. This was hand-made to your specifications and it served you for the rest of your life and you left it to your favourite grandchild in your will. You bought a pair of shoes, hand-made, good quality leather, and when the soles wore thin you took them back to the shoemaker, who put them on the last that they had used to make them and they re-built them; and they were good as new, better in fact because they were moulded to fit your feet perfectly by years of wear. It was the same with clothes; they were made to last. Cooking pots and utensils were things one bought once. And so the list goes on and on.
But not anymore. Everything is made to be thrown away in next to no time. Well, no, not everything. There are still some manufacturers trying to produce quality products, objects that will last a life-time. These generally come with ten, twenty-five and even life-time guarantees. If instead of looking only at the purchase price, one looks at purchase price divided by reasonable expectation of use life of the product, it will be obvious that even in narrow economic self interest terms, it makes for more sense of buy the quality item. It will be far cheaper to pay more for something and only have to buy it once, than to pay slightly less and have to buy it ten or twenty times.

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